Next Generation Perspectives on the US-Australia Alliance

By Professor Peter J. Dean and Erin Watson-Lynn

The Future of the US-Australia Alliance Regional Workshops is a two-year program funded by the United States Government, and delivered by the Perth USAsia Centre in partnership with Griffith Asia Institute, La Trobe Asia, the University of Western Australia and the Australian National University. The program aimed to identify and equip a cohort of young leaders across the country with a contemporary understanding of the Alliance.

Forty-six young professionals and graduate students were selected to participate in workshops in Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne. Fifteen of these participants were selected to travel to Canberra for a three-day intensive program with academics, politicians and government. Of these, five have been selected to travel to Washington DC. The essays in this collection are the culmination of these workshops and program.

These five essays are a window to the views of young Australians on how they view the future of the Alliance. The arguments presented by the authors demonstrate that young people have an appreciation for the rich history of the Alliance, particularly within the context of our shared military histories over the last one hundred years.

However, they also demonstrate that young Australians think about the Alliance in terms of new frontiers of cooperation. These broadly fall into two categories. The first is leveraging the Alliance for pursuing shared geopolitical interests in the Indo-Pacific. This is particularly apparent in their analysis of the Australia’s whole-of-government efforts in the Pacific region as the new diplomatic battleground of major power relations between China and the US. The second is the opportunity to leverage the Alliance to advance shared interests in overcoming non-traditional security threats – such as climate change and energy – as well as cooperating in the creation of new values and norms in non-traditional areas such as space.

The world is changing rapidly; as indeed it has significantly changed during the course of this leadership program. It highlights the need for the next generation of alliance managers to navigate the complex future ahead, rising the challenges that many current and past leaders never had to face. Young people not only need to be at the forefront of exploring new and innovative policy solutions for traditional threats, but also overlay this creative thinking with intersecting non-traditional threats such as global pandemics, cyber security, and changing climate. This generation faces significant and unprecedented challenges. How they leverage the existing strengths of the US-Australia Alliance to do so will shape the next 100 years of history.

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